My understanding about reincarnation.
Like other Indian religions, Buddhism affirms the existence of rebirth, or reincarnation. The mental continuum of an individual, with his instincts, talents, etc., comes from past lives and continues into future lives. The individual, according to his actions and the habits that flow from them, can be reborn among a great variety of life forms, better or worse: human, animal, insect, as ghost or in other invisible state. All human beings experience uncontrollable rebirth due to the strength of their disruptive attitudes such as attachment, anger and naivety, and the drive behaviors they cause. If, because of our previous behavioral patterns, we follow the negative impulses that arise in our minds and act in a destructive way, the result will be that we will experience pain and sorrow. If, on the other hand, we engage in constructive acts, we will experience happy experiences. Thus, the happiness and suffering of each individual during his successive rebirths are not a reward or a punishment, but are created by his previous actions according to causes and behavioral effects.
How to arrive at an understanding of rebirth?
How to validly know that something is true? According to Buddhist teachings, there are two ways of accessing a valid knowledge of things: by direct perception, and by inference. Laboratory experiments validate the existence of something by means of direct perception. An example: when we look at the microscope, we know, through our senses alone, that a lot of tiny microbes are contained in a lake’s water drop.
There are, however, things that cannot be known by direct perception and for which it is advisable to rely on logic, reason, and deduction, as is the case, for example, with magnetism, of which Existence is deduced from the behavior of a magnet and an iron needle. Rebirth is very difficult to prove by the direct perception of the senses. There are many examples of people who remember their past lives and can recognize personal belongings and people they have met before. One could infer the existence of rebirth, but some might doubt this conclusion and suspect a deceit.
If scientists can prove that rebirth is false, we will stop believing it. But if they cannot prove that rebirth does not exist, then – because they follow the logic and the scientific method that opens access to the understanding of new things – it is necessary that they examine whether it exists.
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